In my ongoing fight against the symptoms of the Menopause I have taken up..... cycling!
Lots of reasons. As we go through the joy that is The Change (a pretty seismic change!) our body composition begins to wage war. We are all aware of the menopausal midriff - that inflatable swimming tube around our middle that seems to instantly blow up if we as much look at a Galaxy chocolate bar. But I didn't know we also start to lose lean muscle as our oestrogen declines. I also didn't know that the change to our bodies hormones is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease... and osteoporosis!
I am still thinking of the HRT option. According to NICE guidelines (don't know what they are called that as often they don’t seem very nice at all!) around 23 in every 1000 people will get breast cancer between the ages of 51-59. If you are on combined HRT that goes up by 4 - so you have a 27 in 1000 chance of getting breast cancer. However.... if you are obese you have a 48 in 1000 chance. But if you take more than 2.5 hours of exercise per week then the chance drops to 16/1000.
So, I am very good at hard sums and I calculated that if I do the exercise and lose the beef then go on HRT then everyone's a winner - as overall my risk level will still have dropped despite taking HRT. Result!
My 'Exercise in Menopause Guide' says pick an activity you like. I had to think a lot, as drinking wine in bars is something I like but they don't mean that. Also, I like eating Maltesers in front of the television. They don't mean that either. I do like trampolining but there aren’t enough Tena Ladies in the world to take that up. And then I remembered that joy as a kid of jumping on your bike and roaring off with pals, doing wheelies at 8am to explore returning 'when the street lights go on' with just a few sausages wrapped in tinfoil and a packet of potato puffs.
So, it was off to the bike shop. Too old to care what the 12 year-old staff think or if they take the mick behind my back - I give my requirements:
Must have a MASSIVE seat – am not sawing my bum in half with those stupid skinny seats.
Must have proper upright handlebars - as not doing a Lance Armstrong (the Tour de France bit, not the drugs thing) and my belly would stop me leaning forward and my poor back can’t take it.
It must be a nice colour.
I must have panniers coz I’m not sweating with a wee rucksack on my back, I and need to carry water and stuff.
An hour later I departed and cycled back full of joy (apart from a slight concern about how I will pay the resulting credit card bill) along the cycle path. Which started well enough with little skippy bunnies and cherry blossom. But it would appear that most of the cycle path back to my house is littered with bad intentions! Fag packets... syringes.....a ripped bed base...an old couch....group of drunk men drinking Tennants Extra and shouting “oan yoursel - move that fat arse” as they staggered along beside me. Various bugs bite me and blind me. They also fly into my bloomin’ mouth so I end up unintentionally upping my protein intake - that's karma you feckin’ buggy midgie things. These are things I do not recall in my childhood cycling memories!
Anyway, today I decided to cycle to work. Get fit and save cash. It is only 6 miles - what could go wrong? My colleague kindly rocks up to accompany me. He has very smooth legs and I wonder if he maybe is a transvestite and maybe I can get an invite to one of those shows. But turns out it makes him go faster on his bike? Apparently. Suspect he may be taking the mick though he assures me he isn't. I will see how I go and maybe shave mine too - I know I need all the help I can get.
Six Miles is a long long long long way!! A LONG WAY! After 2 miles I am sweating due to a hot flush and being feckin’ exhausted. Thank God there are showers in our office.
My colleague keeps charging ahead then waiting for me and I finally catch up and he tears off again til he is but a dot in the distance. Sometimes he turns and cycles back to get me. I should feel supported but instead tell him just to feck off and I will get there in my own time. I've also wet myself a bit due to the bumpy road and am a bit embarrassed, so I am ‘most persuasive’. So off he goes. I cannot believe how weak I feel. I park up at the newsagent and buy a couple of Galaxy bars. I think the calories burnt will make up for it.
I toddle along more sedately after this and the sugar definitely helps. I was going to have one Galaxy bar every 2 miles but in the end I just ate them all before I left the shop and it seems to help.
I have to stop to tell my boss I will be about 60 mins late as the time estimated by my colleague turned out to be overly ambitious.
Then half a mile from the office - DUNK - the feckin’ seat just goes all the way down. I am sure I have whiplash and I pee myself just a little bit more. I stop and pull it up - get on and it falls back down again. Stupid thing. So I have to finish the journey with my knees hitting my chin on every turn of the pedal. Apparently you need keys by someone called Alan to fix it but the stupid bike shop didn't think to mention that.
But finally I make it.... I draw in and feel so cool and sporty just parking in the cycle bay and heading to the shower. I take my bag in and it is the best shower ever. I get out and dry off. Then go to get my work clothes. Except - except and I almost cry - there are no work clothes in my bag. None. Feckin’ menopausal brain fog - they are neatly piled up on my bed but not in the bag. I have no choice but to put my clean body into sweaty, damp, peed-on leggings and t-shirt. I frantically Google trams and bikes and sigh with relief when I realise you can take bikes on trams.
I can't possibly go to work like this - so another call to my boss to say it will be a half day for me today. Then it's up to the tram. I stop at the baker for some pain au chocolat and cycle the five minutes (downhill) back to my house. Then scoff them with some hot chocolate and cream. I am fairly sure I have burned those calories off so it is fine.
I think I might need a bit more practice before I do that again. And possibly an oxygen tank. And a commitment from Lothian buses that they will keep all their buses off the roads while I am on the half mile stretch that isn't a cycle path.
I might possibly cycle to the tram and back for a week then work up from there.
Oh, and take some sausages and potato puffs and maybe do a few wheelies.